Monday, 11 June 2018

Edward Leung: Before the Sentencing

Before the Sentencing
Translated by HKCT, written by Edward Leung TIn-kei 梁天琦 (on 10 June 2018)

Before I returned to Hong Kong, I once read a news report about the tendency of Hongkongers in recent years to emigrate. The poll showed that more and more Hongkongers are moving abroad. Among youngsters, an overwhelming majority considered emigration. At the same time, some “dignitaries” said that if youngsters are so dissatisfied with the society and feel pessimistic about the future, they can choose to leave. After reading these two articles, I felt perplexed: what environment are we creating for our next generation in this place?

To leave or to stay is, of course, a choice many have to make. If Hongkongers - especially the younger generation - no longer remain in Hong Kong and move elsewhere, then the future of Hong Kong will thus be cast. On the other hand, if we stick to this piece of land, then it is possible to change the future. Hong Kong will no longer be a “floating city”.

Of course, the reality makes us dejected. We all have our difficulties.

Since the hearing, time has rewound to the night of 8 February two years ago. Sometimes it pauses, sometimes it stops. My world reconnects with that night again, then stagnates, and I believe it will likely stay there for some time.

After four months of captivity, life isn't too bitter. I am most grateful to friends who attended hearings and wrote to me. Whenever I recall the scene in the courtroom: defense lawyers in front, familiar or unacquainted faces in the public gallery, every nod, smile and wave - these all bolstered my courage to face everything. Especially your letters. These are my only connections beyond the tall wall. These warm my heart a lot. This compassion reminds me of why I engage myself in politics.

Lives can influence lives. When I was about to give my statement to the court, I tried to trace my footsteps from the very beginning to today. I remember whom I met on the journey. From day one, the impetus pushing me to the field of politics is the pursuit of a democratic and free Hong Kong. During the course of seeking this ideal society, we have witnessed different scenes, had our own experiences and made our judgments. Regardless of how we make our choices, it is unavoidable that we encounter bumps if we want Hong Kong to become democratic. Coming to today, I don't expect others to agree with me, but I hope they have basic understanding about how an unrepresentative political system can spark the public’s anger; and how many political upheavals will be driven by failed constitutional reform. If we are staying here, the wellbeing of Hong Kong ought to be closely linked to every one of us. What is more, a democratic entity that can fully reflect public opinion should be our pursuit.

Talking about democracy or constitutional reform at this very moment may sound cliché or like asking for the moon. True, all great ideals sound ludicrous in front of a ridiculous reality. I do not deny the stark fact of the retrogression of the democratic course in Hong Kong. I just think that at the worst times, people's sense of responsibility becomes more important. We truly have a lot of things we ought to do but have not yet done.

When raising an issue in the community, support and opposition will inevitably appear. The divergence will manifest itself in different ways. By the same token, even with the ideal of making a difference in the society, social movement participants will also diverge or split due to different priorities. Before democracy is realized, perhaps we should put democracy in practice, understand all kinds of differences and cherish them. We should treat them as an opportunity to bring together a larger force. Only autocracy forbids dissenting voices.

From the turbulence in recent years, I learnt a lot of lessons that have been written down on paper. I have to thank all the people whom I met, especially my parents who brought me into this world. I think even with my entire life, I cannot repay them enough. But if I can learn today's lesson and keep striving for the future of our next generation, I believe my parents will be glad.

10 June 2018

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Letter from David Ford to Civil Servants of Hong Kong on 16 June 1989

Letter from David Ford to Civil Servants of Hong Kong on 16 June 1989
Translated by Chinese Language Authority, Civil Service Branch, written by David Ford

(In June 2018, a Facebook page Rufixation posted this letter, which was found in a former government department office. With authorization, we have typed the full text in English and Chinese for people to refer upon in the future.)

Dear Colleague,

At this time, we in the civil service share with the community as a whole a profound feeling of shock and grief at the recent bloodshed in Peking. I am sure that you, like most people in Hong Kong, are watching with the concern the way in which the situation in China develops. We must all hope that the moves to modernize and liberalize China will be given fresh impetus in the years ahead.

Despite their anger the people of Hong Kong have reacted to recent events in China with tremendous dignity and restraint. This is particularly so in the case of the civil service and my purpose in writing to you is to thank you all for your dedication and responsibility in these troubled times. You have continued to provide the community with a standard of service of a level of which you can be proud, while at the same time demonstrating solidarity with the rest of the people of Hong Kong. Your loyalty to Hong Kong and all it stands for is highly appreciated.

The tragedy of recent weeks makes the role of the civil service even more important to the future of Hong Kong. There may be difficult times ahead, but we have faced difficult times before. No matter what the problems, Hong Kong has shown an ability to adapt and bounce back unequalled anywhere. I have no doubt that we shall do so again.

It would be pointless to suggest that what has happened has not had a major effect on confidence in the future of Hong Kong. I know that you must be deeply concerned. But this makes it all the more necessary for us, as civil servants, to work towards ensuring a stable, and prosperous Hong Kong both up to and beyond 1997. One thing that has emerged from this present situation is a unity of purpose in Hong Kong. We cannot go back, we can only go forward, plan ahead and build for the future. In going forward our duty and commitment is to Hong Kong and its people.

I realise of course that in difficult times it is the civil service that is in the front line, that it is that civil service who may bear the brunt of the community's concerns, and that it is the civil service to which many people time for leadership, guidance and help. I have set that confidence in the future of Hong Kong has been seriously affected; what has not been affected is the confidence in the civil service; its sense of duty and dedication and its commitment to serve the people of Hong Kong.

Yours sincerely,

David Ford

Chief Secretary









布政司 霍德

Friday, 18 May 2018

Admit It, You’ll Eventually Be Surrounded By A Generation Who Haven’t Experienced Tian’anmen Massacre

Admit It, You’ll Eventually Be Surrounded By A Generation Who Haven’t Experienced Tian’anmen Massacre
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Lewis Loud

The student unions of eight universities told the press that they won’t organize any Tian’anmen-related events. Many “yellow ribbons” were angry.

I don’t know what do undergraduates think about this. A few years ago, I started to urge people to boycott the rally held by HK Alliance and to sever ties with patriotism. But that doesn’t mean that I completely know what they are thinking about because I haven’t talked to any SU members. I am already not as young as they are. With loads of criticisms against the youth, old “yellow ribbons” see them as “revolters” as the youth does not follow the old’s “traditions and values”.

What kind of emotions do these old people expect post-1989 youth to have? If such a youth says he will commemorate the Massacre forever, that would be most hypocritical, isn’t it? “If I support democracy and freedom, I should bear in mind the Massacre for 10,000 years” - this is the political correctness passed on by “HKA-HKPTU-DP” (HK Alliance, Professional Teachers’ Union, Democratic Party). My generation doesn’t really give a damn, not to mention the latest generation. Admit it, things will change. You will eventually be surrounded by a generation who haven’t experienced the Massacre.

But if you think that the next generation will completely forget that, then that is showing your arrogance. This generation has experienced their own confrontations and has desires for dignity and liberty. Localists, independence supporters, self-determination supporters have arisen in an environment way more difficult compared to the era when the British ruled. These people have paid a higher cost than the older generation. Being charged, getting bankrupt, in exile, being imprisoned, being ridiculed, etc.

I don’t think that these “yellow ribbons” do care about democracy and freedom of Hong Kong. They care about the Massacre’s façade more than the succession of democratic awareness. They do not accept that the world will be taken over by a generation which has not experienced the Massacre. They do not stress the desire for freedom, which all human beings share, nor respect the differences between the young. They keep reiterating their limited participation - I watched the massacre live on TV, I went to Concert for Democracy in China, I went to protests…

Emotional experience was special, huge but uncopyable. If you haven’t experienced it, you haven’t. But this generation will remember 28 September 2014, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok unrest and names in these episodes. The older generation won’t care how to make this generation (which has a totally different emotional experience) feel what they felt back then. Do the older generation care about the democracy and freedom of Hong Kong? Do they think that they have done a good job in the past three decades? Do they believe that things will not be taken over by the younger generation?

They seem to care more about staying inside their echo chamber for the rest of their life, including murmuring “students are but cat’s paws“. These students can face Hong Kong upright. Democratic Party has fought for a retrogressive political reform and had private backroom deals with the Communists. Leung Yiu-chung, one of the standing members of the HK Alliance, surrendered the chairman seat in LegCo, leading to six lawmakers being disqualified. Every time, there were people missing when key bills in the Chamber are to be voted. Tightening of the Rules of Procedures, XRL, co-location, infrastructure appropriations were all passed. Don’t you care? “Standing one night on the stage in a year makes a person upright, having clear-cut protagonists and antagonists …” Doesn’t that sound TVB dramas?

The older generation cares the most such annual party. They do not care about how many battles were lost in the reality. As long as they “win” in the night in such virtual rally, they are satisfied. They will then point the finger at protesters as spies from the Party and making riots. Those who have decades of remaining life won’t bear these.

For those “yellow ribbons”, they probably can’t imagine why is this unbearable. With those mean comments, you might think nothing happened over the past few years or even decade. They have loose standards for the authority but strict to the weak. They might think that their own contribution is comparable to building temples and beneficial to the public.

In the past two or three years, students have bid China farewell, but still, see the Massacre as a “humanitarian disaster” and had a few forums, trying to localize the commemoration of the Massacre. Yet, people who are not going to Victoria Park are slammed. Those “yellow ribbons“ had loads of antagonistic articles and words against the students, who did not have an equal amount of article exposure and airtime. If this is an election, this is equal to “scolding at your supporters”. Those who scold so loudly have their dreams come true. The students don’t think it is necessary to organize such event. Things should be said have been said.

If we say forcing people to love their country is a tyranny, then HK Alliance forcing the latest generation to have “Massacre emotional experience” is equally “Chinese”. There is metal fatigue, and a long-term emotional blackmail also generates antibody in people’s mind.

The right mentality is simple: those who want to go can go, and those who don’t are not sinners. People can still collaborate on different matters after that night. “Yellow ribbons” can tolerate Alvin Yeung, who was absent for many key meetings in LegCo, and Leung Yiu-chung, who surrendered the chairmanship, yet they just can’t tolerate undergraduates who have different mindsets when it comes to identity and “Massacre emotional experience”.

“Undergraduates ought to cry for the Massacre” - this is just the imagination of one generation. No one will be on the stage forever, not me, not you and not that incident.

Monday, 9 April 2018

[HKUSU Undergrad] Hong Kong Youth’s Declaration of Joining the CCP

Hong Kong Youth’s Declaration of Joining the CCP
Translated by Bernard Wong, written by There’s Still the Party [Undergrad, April 2018]

This article is to fight the case for Hong Kong youth.

I am increasingly concerned that society should do away with the stigmatisation of the term “Useless Youth” (Or Fai Ching in Cantonese). 

Is it really appropriate to generalise the younger generation in this manner?

Are Fai Chings bound to be complaining about the injustice of society, or indulge in the pointless fantasy of Hong Kong Independence? Are young people bound to oppose the government, be anti-China, set to disrupt Hong Kong and provoke hatred? Do you honestly believe there are that more Edward LeungAndy Chan and Ernie Chow? On the contrary, young people in Hong Kong are an obedient bunch, with no lack of patriots. They yearn for all the “benefits" of China, from easily realisable opportunities such as cultural exchange tours between China and Hong Kong and internships up north to long-term goals such as a seat in the establishment. They may have always supported their motherland with banners held high, or had their eureka moment and saw the red light.

Therefore, I say there are many types of young people. In 2014 it might seem like there are lots of zealous youngsters, eager to change the society. Yet when you look at Carrie Lam’s campaign last year and see the familiar young faces among her campaign, you have to "appreciate" these smart timeservers, the future pillars of society.

When Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the world believed that Hong Kong youth is at the forefront of the battle for freedom and democracy, oblivious to the fact that these youngsters are one of a kind. Believe it or not, give it a decade or so and the course-mate who sat next to you in SOCI1001 will manage to get his spot in the Establishment. Your comrades who charged the metal blockades along your side during the Umbrella Movement have already pledged his renewed allegiance to the Hong Kong communists, transforming himself as a well-off young elite. Chinese colonisation would not turn Hong Kong into Xianggang, it was by the "locals".

Accumulate the Fruits of United Front Efforts, 
Reap when it's ripe

The CCP is good at conducting a "United Front” (tongzhan). There has been no lack of studies on how China throws its weight around in Hong Kong. For example Christine Loh’s “Underground Front: The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong” pointed out how the CCP as the ruling party and an underground organisation interfered in Hong Kong all these years, lasting long before the transfer of sovereignty. On the social level, Chinese corporates or organisation branches devoted cash and effort to build community networks, and would even take in “loyal oppositions” to consolidate their power.

Dr Lam Wai-man, Honorary Assistant Professor from the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong and Dr Kay Lam Chi-yan published “China's United Front Work in Civil Society: The Case of Hong Kong” in an academic journal in 2013. It illustrated how the CCP does not conduct its united front work in detail. Five measures have been adopted instead (integration, cooptation, collaboration, containment, and denunciation), covering areas including the media, legislature, community organisations and education… etc., successfully realise the coordination of different organisations, allow them to absorb young people to join the ranks of government supporters, whilst weaken the strength of the democratic camp. The endeavour is well structured and organised.

We have been told that there’s a thing called ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong and guarantee for our way of life remaining unchanged for 50 years’. Yet to prepare Hong Kong’s transition into just another city of China, and to ensure Hong Kong becomes connected will be connected) with the Motherland it is in its culture, politics and way of thinking, the effort of United Front becomes quintessential. Most importantly, they are exporting Chinese population to homogenise the peripheral place of Hong Kong, while ensuring the younger generation will not become a challenge to China and disrupt its policy in Hong Kong.

Twenty Years of Endless Inducements

Approaching young people, controlling the curriculum, developing youth organisations and recruiting potential talents to catch the baton became tasks of “greatest importance”. Hong Kong people, in their naïveté, believe that they have stopped the brainwashing project from becoming part of daily life by winning marginally in the battle against ‘National education’, yet they cannot stop the party from luring the younger generation. 

Let us talk about the exchange tours to China and the “Mainland internship programmes” which we are more familiar with.

We say the pro-Beijing parties give out some goodies (such as dumplings) and subsidised banquets from the Party to buy hearts and minds in elections, and then get the elderly to the polling stations by coach buses. Aren’t the younger generation also lured by these goodies of a different kind? Opportunities to exchange and do internships in the Mainland are plentiful. For example, before the beginning of the second semester, the Internet is flooded with promotions of "Mainland internship programmes”, driving many university students wild. Just to declare, I am not looking at these internships through red-coloured lenses. I would just like to use this example to show that there’s nothing to stop the humongous and systematic communist-backed organisations attracting talents with economic incentives. To participate internships in China and appreciate its natural beauties and grandeurs are unavoidably becoming the “collective memory” of the new generation of youngsters.

I wonder if participants know that the hosting organisations are from the pro-Beijing camp or are the underlings of the CCP, and that the participants need to express their “takeaways”, their new insights of the nation and sentiments towards the development of the nation with reflections/ video… or to be drunk, to lick the boots of these communist-backed organisations, why are so many university students so eager to participate? I think there are two reasons: 

First, the practical consideration: why not if it’s so cheap?

The activities hosted by the harmony-inducing organisations are insensibly cheap. Participants can choose different major cities in China, participate in internships lasting one to two months, and get more than half of their deposit back upon completing the internship. All things considered, the cost is practically free. Beyond exchange tours to keep you up to date on “national conditions”, there are tours that are responding to China’s policies such as “the Belt and Road Initiative”, offering low-cost opportunities to visit Central Asia and Eastern Europe. High cost-to-return ratio becomes the greatest incentives. Even if one has to sit through the masturbatory seminars on China and play along at sharing sessions, it is all minor costs to pay. Some students claim to participate only to take advantage of its cheapness and make some friends. University students can discern truth from falsehood and cannot be so easily influenced(manipulated).

Coming to think of it, how do the hosting organisations know if the students are being sincere? Referencing The Stand News’s feature, “Mind Supplements for Youth”, interviewee Crystal is a frequent participant in these exchange tours. She claims(claimed) her participation in these events have absolutely zero influence on her, and that her participation saves another person from being ‘educated’. At the same time, she gets to “deplete the Liaison Office of its resources”. Of course, I believe many participants are rational, but the CCP is not stupid either. The CCP expected the participants to only seek a comfortable escape. The CCP pumps such vast amount of resources; even if it only affects a handful of people, if that can create within them a flicker of changing thoughts towards the nation, such as “China is not that bad” or “Chinese development is so good”, and allow them to catch up to pro-China people’s way of thinking, or to alleviate the anger towards China’s human rights and injustices by appealing to those who are after a good deal, would that be a phasic victory for the CCP from their perspective? This soft-handed approach gnaws subconsciously, yet it can bring more unexpected, deeper and more far-lasting impacts than the heavy-handed approach of 'National Education'.

Second, there’s no reason to be patriotic? Hong Kong has no lack of genuinely patriotic youngsters?
Out of curiosity, I clicked on some sharing sessions video clips from the exchange tours, only to realise that for some good young people, patriotism does not require any reason. Participants demonstrate a zeal for the “Motherland”. It’s hard to understand why some people can offer such flattery to the communists after so many things have happened in Hong Kong, with naked political oppression and the rule of law soon to be subsumed. They might have been through the same education system, witness the same social changes in Hong Kong and are youngsters in their early twenties. The fact of the matter is many young people live in a parallel universe’s Hong Kong. Regardless of how the CCP insensibly interferes Hong Kong’s affairs, and that the absurd continues to happen, not caring who gets disqualified, or that the co-location arrangement is in the tube, nothing is going to affect some youngsters’ loyalty and patriotism towards the ‘motherland’.
Terrance Au Yeung Kwong-wing,
an interviewee of Hong Kong Connection who decides to join DAB.

Practically speaking, there’s nothing one can do for the good youngsters who genuinely love the ‘Motherland’; on the other hand, we don’t need to worry about those who are only going to leech off a good deal being brainwashed. So is there any harm done by these ‘harmony-inducing' activities, and may even be worthy of our consideration?

I have not participated in internships in China or the "harmonious" cultural exchange tours, but many of my friends have. They have been normal so far. Perhaps there is no need for us to completely boycott these activities; on the contrary, we should understand the social, political and economic situations in China through these activities (even though we can expect whitewashing from the process). A person with international vision should not neglect China. If these activities do actually have a brainwashing element to them, participants can share their first-hand experience online, revealing the process and raising everyone’s awareness and alert towards these activities.

The Problem To Address: The Silent Youth Makes Up the Majority

Actually, why are we worrying about these brainwashing tours being effective? At its core, it’s because we lack confidence in the young people of Hong Kong. After all, those who have their own views and stance and are audacious and critical of the politics of our time are the minority, the silent and easily influenced are the majority.

It is difficult to overview the identity recognition of the younger generation of Hong Kong. From like-minded friends on Facebook, labels from the media and the various opinion polls, we pretty much get the conclusion that “Young people generally disapprove of the government.” Taking Hong Kong citizens’ “ethnic identity indices” survey as an example, generally, people understand the drop since 2008 as a response to the various social crisis in China, the influx of Mainlanders in Hong Kong, the scandals of senior government officials, the sluggish development of democratic reforms… etc. What follows is a formulaic transformation of how young people view identity concept; patriotism shifts from the normative sentiment to have to a vulgar one. 

I believe this is the new trend of identity recognition for the young generation, but does that impression align with the facts?

Indeed, more and more millennials are referring to themselves as Hongkongers instead of Chinese, a divide between Hong Kong and China have also been advocated by university students. Yet ironically, the apathetic ones still make up the majority. Referencing official surveys, young people on average do not actively exercise their civil rights. Take the age group between 20-30 years old, the population of which exceed one million. Yet the number of “young voters” is approximately 640 thousand (18-30-year-old voters fall under this category), this shows how the politically apathetic and the self-declared neutral always makes the majority. Even though it is hard to deduce the values and attitudes of these people, we can assume these people probably care about what is closest to their own interest only, yet they would not speak up against injustice or problems that do not directly affect them. They are the easiest bunch to influence and can be said to be the CCP’s target.

When we feel today that the pro-establishment camp has amassed the elderly voters with little trinkets and perks, establishing their strong voter base, would it be the case that the young generation, which we regard as equipped with civil awareness, will become the next generation of pro-establishment camp supporters? I really don’t know. Think about the Umbrella Movement in 2014, how many people changed their profile pic to a yellow ribbon to follow the trend, yet many people continue to live their ordinary lives as if nothing has happened after a year or two. They have claimed the moral ground, and exempted themselves from civic engagement. If most people go with the tide, and that one day to join the CCP becomes the norm and to oppose the government makes you the odd one out, would this law of people going with the tide apply in the opposite situation? The silent and the self-deemed apolitical/ apathetic is the most worrying bunch, because they are a force can be used at any moment. If most youngsters don’t speak of idealism, and only of tangible “benefits”, the force of opposition would have dug its own grave; what a lovely world.

Enkindle a light; they will come when there’s light (?)

Of course, we cannot neglect the new generation who are making their effort in silence, and would even gamble their future for a political ideal. To think of it optimistically, the situation cannot that bad, right? At least there are some who are willing to counter the “China factor”. Take the legal support for social movement activists, or those who are on guard for the student unions, preventing red influences from seeping into the power structure of universities. Yet in the foreseeable future, how can we capture the wandering hearts and minds of the apolitical and fickle-minded young people, and prevent them from being a bargaining chip or chess piece of the Establishment? If there are more young people who bear a sense of duty and aspiration to Hong Kong, I can very well suggest everyone exert their influence at their own posts, and support social movements by all means available. Yet when there are more and more youngsters who are patriotic/ patriotic when needed, what can civil society do? Can we still rely on the power of the media? The state controls education, but civil society and control the dissemination of information. I believe that reinforcing the public’s awareness of localness is the only way to counter the CCP’s United Front efforts. Only when the people here have a determined will to be rooted in this place, and love everything about this place, that they would stop selling out the city’s interest and betray the remaining values this city stands for.

As cliché as this may sound, there is light at the end of darkness. It has only been a couple decades, how can we despair and submit so quickly? We have to believe that with more unorthodoxy, the greater the resistance it will inspire. The CCP wishes to boil the frog slowly in tepid water, homogenising Hong Kong with a soft hand, and make young people lean towards the North, yet at the worst hour, there will be outrage. Yet this prophecy rests on the premise that we have to equip ourselves well. Because of this, we must not give up the fight on communication; we must persevere in using culture and knowledge to counter the multidimensional, seeping influences from the CCP.

I remember there was an interview with Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. He mentioned that one of Hong Kong’s biggest problem is that “since the handover, national consciousness has not been effectively constructed.” Actually, this national consciousness has already taken root in many people’s heart in many ways.  This bunch of people will not be patriotic unconditionally, but would be willing to be patriotic because of perks from the North. Yet, the same sentence can be rephrased as Hong Kong’s biggest problem is “the ineffective construction of local consciousness”. If more people are willing to put Hong Kong’s interests and values first, then we can oppose the anaconda that is China, and not have it be a desperate attempt in vain.

And then,

I am not great enough to light the path forward for future generations. I can only wish to be like Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen, the anti-prophet, and that none of the above will come true.

Sometimes I wonder, I despise those who bury their conscience to lick CCP’s boots and sell Hong Kong out, but would I do it myself if the opportunity presents itself? If you cannot beat them, then join them? My fear of the future lies not only with the fear of Hong Kong becoming more and more unfamiliar, but also that I would become fatalistic, or even if I do not go to such extreme as to join the CCP, it is possible that I would become a Kongformist, submitting to reality.

Hopefully, another decade will pass and we will not turn into those whom we once fulminated, despised and even hated. Do not end up as a conspirator to put the nail on Hong Kong’s coffin.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Lam Min-yat: Why Can’t “Disqualification Issue” Mobilise Voters?

Why Can’t “Disqualification Issue” Mobilise Voters?
Translated by Bernard Wong, written by Lam Min-yat 林勉一

During the by-election, we all thought the “Disqualification Issue” is the trump card. As we can now learn from the facts, the “Disqualification Issue” may only be a concern for the self-anointed progressives. For many people, the alleged “Disqualification Issue” is no grave matter.

If we were to ask why the “Disqualification Issue” failed the mobilise the masses, I would allude to the movie NO, a film adapted from the history of Chile's referendum. In the movie, the dictator Pinochet orchestrated a referendum to extend his rule. The opposition needs to call on the electorate to vote NO. They set out the film TV commercials, with scenes of hardcore riot police beating up citizens, ending with a call to vote against.
The opposition presented their work to a young advertiser, who finds it ineffective. The advertiser said that such serious theme has little appeal to the masses. He noted that a message needs to be targeted to the public as a product is targeted to its market.

The public we refer to is essential an apolitical bunch. They need to make ends meet, have a family to take care of, have classes to attend, lives to live… Force-feeding them with political ideals will not be able to affect them; the message itself must be approachable.

Professor Ma Ngok noted that the gravest takeaway from this by-election is that the ordinary citizen is not as receptive to the “Disqualification Issue” as we all expected.

Those who are repulsed by the “Disqualification Issue” pay close attention to political news everyday, like you and I. We can tell the difference between localists, "yit-po-shing" (Civic Passion-Proletariat Political Institute-Hong Kong Resurgence Order), moderate pan-dems, radical pan-dems, left-wingers, right-wingers… etc. There may be one or two hundred thousands of us in society. Yet most of the Hongkongers we meet on a daily basis cannot tell Youngspiration, League of Social Democrats or Demosistō apart.

A lot of youth who regard themselves as woke would curse these “Kongformists” as undeserving of democracy. The “Kongformists” are those who pay little attention to politics, and even those who have been subconsciously persuaded by TVB and pro-Beijing newspapers to believe that politics is chaos.

The aforementioned crowd makes up the majority of society. That is the reality. They are exactly the people whom the advertiser in the movie NO is trying to mobilise. The opposition cannot regard them as “Chilean conformists” and give up trying to sway them, only to bemoan there are too many “Chilean conformists” in Chile for democracy to happen.

For you and me, the “Disqualification Issue” is an egregious assault on the law, due process, reason and common sense. Yet most people cannot even find time to care, or simply don’t want to care. Especially when television and newspapers nowadays are all under the enemy’s command, giving them even less incentive to care.

This year or so, the government stripped many candidates’ rights to run for office unreasonably. It has also stripped six LegCo members of their seats. Why is the daily passerby so nonchalant to such ridiculous and barbaric acts?

From daily observation, I see that regardless of adults or students, they have come to roll the word “DQ” on the tip of their tongue, as if it is nothing out of the ordinary. I think there are a number of reasons why this has occurred:

First, the mainstream media have all been homogenised. Mainstream media, especially TVB, have basically given a cold shoulder to the issues of government stripping candidates’ right to run as well as elected candidates’ right to represent. Even when there is coverage, it is stuck with the formulaic expression of “They have been too radical. The government is acting in accordance with the law. Pro-establishment scholar points out it is within the government’s right to do so.”

On another matter, the expression “disqualification” is a complete disaster. What is happening is candidates’ rights to run and elected candidates’ rights to represent being stripped away, yet you let the mainstream media lead you on and call it “DQ”. The average Joe hears two English letters and does not associate it with anything negative. This blurs the severity of the incident. Disqualification to the ordinary citizen is like a referee stripping a rule-breaker’s right to play, most commonly seen in sports competition. Anti-DQ to the innocent ears sound like we are in the wrong to begin with.

There’s a more serious point: Yau Wai-ching’s “Re-fucking of Chi-Na” have been looped ad nauseam by the mainstream media, so much so that the public has come to equate DQ with “Re-fucking of Chi-Na”. You who are politically attuned will know even using that as an excuse to strip a legislator of her seat is out of line, but the commoner sentences the legislator to death the moment they hear a swear word.

An election is about rallying people to vote. For many people to be rallied, it takes more than an appeal to ideals. There needs to be an appeal to emotion and relations. An appeal to emotions is to make the public feel the need to vote. This needs to go beyond ideals. They must have an emotional motive, such as grief, anger, fear, hope, sympathy… etc. To be stripped of the right to be elected and to represent is a grief-worthy and angering issue in itself, yet the incident is too abstract in reality, coupled with the aforementioned reasons, it failed to rally the people.

So how can the masses be rallied? Whatever I can think of, I am sure my democrat friends can also think of. Here are my two cents:

First of all, it is important to capture the attention of those who do not care about the “Disqualification Issue”. How? Since the television and newspapers are all under the regime’s control, we must sow our seeds humbly on the streets and promote in local communities. This seed-sowing process demands time and patience and requires our constant commitment. As to whether the democrats had spent enough time and patience on that, I’d say there is room for improvement.

This seed-sowing approach is no panacea. There are those who are immune to such medicine. The “Disqualification Issue” failed to capture the imagination. How can such imagination be presented? Take the anti-national education movement for example. If it weren’t for the overwhelmingly leftist “The China Model” textbook, the public would not be aware how chilling the whole thing is. Yet when it comes to the government stripping of legislators of their seats, there wasn’t enough grief, fear and frustration. Better for Hong Kong Island, there were a bunch of commies who were verbally abusing pan-democrat volunteers on the day of the by-election. Kowloon West did not have that to count on.

For the majority of the public, the “Disqualification Issue” is irrelevant to daily life. If campaigners cannot make people empathize with the “Disqualification Issue”, then they should seek issues that are more tangible in daily life. These issues can be the overwhelming surplus in our reserve, resettlement and payments for reconstruction (Want to guess how many voters can understand “Say no to the Commodification of Housing”?), the national anthem legislation, Carrie Lam giving a free pass to the UGL/ $50 million case, SJ Teresa Cheng knowingly breaching the law, uniformed groups being asked to march by CCP stylistic standards… etc. These issues are comprehensible to the commoner, and only by comprehending the issue will he or she finds meaning in voting.

I understand Carrie Lam has quite a remarkable skill in giving the impression that “whatever’s at fault is not my fault”, and many do believe her. At the same time, the resources made available to pro-communist political parties is 10 times that of pan-dems. They have infinite resources to build grassroots networks and count votes. And let’s not forget, TVB was shameless enough to insist on not hosting an election forum, giving a cold shoulder to this entire by-election.

This by-election saw a major loss of votes in the public housing estate areas, meaning grassroots voters. This electoral result is a siren to the pan-democrats. The reality is that the referee, the linesmen and the host are all under the CCP. If democrats do not ponder on how to attract grassroots voters and the politically indecisive ones, a repetition of Kowloon West’s defeat is not impossible.

In the movie NO, what did the opposition use for the final version of their advertisement? It was song and dance modelled on commodity advertisement. There was no catastrophe in the ad, the imagery and music grab your attention immediately. The message of the advertisement is simple and direct: to vote, and vote NO; without a dictatorship there will be better days ahead. Only by grabbing the masses’ attention can you appeal to them. Do you know what the electorate of Kowloon West remembers most? “Vincent Cheng? He’s the brother in law of Myolie Wu.”

(P.S. Perhaps I’m being too clever too late with the full benefit of hindsight. Yet I’m not satisfied with being clever after the facts, nor am I here to boo and challenge. Beyond writing this article, I have strived to find my elders and friends to vote. With circumstances like these, I promised myself I will help out with canvassing in person in the upcoming election, let this be my proof.)

Monday, 29 January 2018

Chan Kim-ching: 'Disqualified' as a revanchist political project

'Disqualified' as a revanchist political project
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Chan Kim-ching (Local Research Community)

Since a series of LegCo disqualification (DQ) events last year, the party and the SAR government have been colluding to deprive Hong Kong people of the right to elect their representatives freely and deny the right to stand in election by means of political censorship. From now on, only the party's political proxies can be chosen. A sound justification for DQ is not bothered with anymore.

I agree with Professor Ma Ngok's article very much: Why not revert to the appointment system before the 1980s when things have degenerated to this stage? Why cloak ourselves with the façade of democracy?

The misfortune of being DQ-ed does not only fall on Agnes Chow, nor is it limited to LegCo. In the past few years, there were waves of DQ in society. There have been all sorts of political censorship to disqualify people in universities, the civil service system, media organizations, and the business sector. DQ was born in a new political order, dimensionally unprecedented, where the nation’s sovereignty hangs above the established social and political rights of citizens. This is an act of state that propels Hong Kong politics into the abyss of uncertainty. When the censorship incidents were reported, they often end with people’s submissive acquiescence rather than a reflection on the part of the state apparatus. An authoritarian regime’s greed cannot be satiated by its success in the political field. Beijing's strategy in ruling Hong Kong will be the full politicization of Hong Kong society, it will settle for nothing less.

In face of DQ events, we feel indignant, but we cannot lose our acumen and direction despite the ever-harsher political suppression. A macro perspective is especially needed in times like these. We should realize that the series of government suppressions is a stretched-out revenge for the Umbrella Movement. The government's target is not only the participants of the Occupy Movement but Hong Kong itself.

If we are to describe in detail this political scheme, which has begun, we can call it a “21st century nation re-shaping project”. The strategy is to overhaul the socio-political system and identity in this city through a top-down approach, so as to achieve what Beijing calls - “winning minds and hearts”, thereby getting rid of people's potential imagination for democracy. The goal is to turn SAR into a special economic zone.

This scheme may be highlighted by the abandonment of an entire generation of Hongkongers – not just Agnes Chow's generation (who were born in the 1990s) but the last four generations before Chow until the Baby Boom (basically those who have lived during the colonial era). The next generation, meaning the current secondary school students, is not considered “red” enough, and the scheme aims to create a national identity starting with primary school students.

If we say the Khmer Rouge changed the national identity through genocide, the “identity revamp project” will be completed through these four ways:

1. Reinterpret the existing legal and political system; distort and weaken the original protection of Hongkongers' socio-political rights; justify the socialist regime's intervention in every aspect in Hong Kong; monopolize all interpretations of legal and political discourse in Hong Kong. These will turn Hong Kong into a Chinese-style authoritarian legal and political system, instead of a liberal democratic polity. 
2. Through the strategic allocation of a huge amount of social resources to the Greater Bay Area, redefine the geographical boundary by means of regional planning. Replace Hongkongers with Bay Area people. Making the daily life, capital, labour more flowing, changing Hongkongers' city life, and gradually dissolving the city identity of Hong Kong. 
3. Let the party's force permeate in each and every aspect of society, going beyond political associations as it currently stands. Implanting the authoritarian regime into education, judiciary, workplace, departments and other social resources allocation system. Eventually, an ordinary citizen’s access to social resources will be conditional to his succumbence to the authoritarian regime instead of stressing the principle of fair competition. The life of those who do not stick to the regime will be arbitrarily DQ-ed or restricted. 
4. Renovate the existing establishment and make it a stricter tool for united front work, or Tongzhan. Completely control the network and media information. Staging a “media war” for every social and political incident every day. Creating internal conflicts among the people – to affect the enemy and to extinguish self-recognition by mobilizing the people.

Most countries (including democratic ones) hate dissidents and will put labels on them to make their demands seemingly unreasonable, unrealistic and unfeasible. Some may ask, what can a commoner do when he may be DQed at any moment and the Basic Law may be reinterpreted at the regime’s whim?

Firstly, it is about rationality. People must have their own acumen and confront wrongdoings under this lopsided social system. At the same time, not only do we need some small victories, we also need moonshot thinking. We should construct our agenda with politically unfeasible ideas, so as to break the shrinking political room.

Secondly, it is about practice. The regime tries to give you up, enslave you and force you to emigrate. We should prove that even when the regime has stolen the sovereignty to suppress the people, the people remain determined not to submit to authoritarian rule. We should make the regime know that society is filled with people more capable of conducting good governance and winning hearts. The regime needs to know that their authoritarian way is only fit for ruling a land of puppets.

This will be the largest humiliation to Beijing's “new constitutional” rule in Hong Kong.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Nicole Wong: The False Song of Chinese Nationalism

The False Song of Chinese Nationalism
Written by Nicole Wong; originally on Comitium Volume 3 (publication of Hong Kong National Party)
Originally from issuu

Tanni / EJInsight
When Hongkongers first realised that their fate currently lies in the hands of the foreigner, when the first call for Hong Kong Independence was voiced, and when the Hong Kong National Party was first convened, the resounding rebuttal was that of a familiar question: “Are you not a Chinese as well?”  All too familiar indeed is the question, for not only is its contents a cliché, but its accompanying features: the moralising and patronising tone, the aged and wrinkled face, and the underlying sincere belief from the accuser that all parties engaging in the heated debate are, beyond any doubt, Chinese.  The PRC members are Chinese, the Hongkongers are Chinese; the pro-Establishments are Chinese, the pro-Independents are Chinese; you are Chinese, I am Chinese, we are all Chinese.  It is as if the fabled Golden Headband of Journey to the West's Monkey King has come to life, and with the familiar words, the inescapable Chinese identity binds us all to our predestined obedience to our Chinese colonial masters, who are, as we are reminded by this very instant, our beloved brothers in the Sinic brotherhood.

Thus smugly does the self-assured Sinic accuser disarm, without any self-awareness of Stockholm Syndrome, any threats to the imposed Chinese identity.  Those politically engaged amongst you might have noticed that this “call to linked arms” is no novel rhetoric.  Indeed, long since before the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed from the Brits to the Chinese in 1997, whenever the separate identity of Hongkongers was ever raised, there came inevitably the self-assured, “patriotic” rebuttal: “Are you not Chinese?” And how effective it was in shutting down all discussions!  In an age where both the pro-Beijing and the pan-democrats believe they are merely squabbling brothers born of the same beanstalk [Though it must be said the illusion runs far deeper for the latter.], it is easy to see why the curse is so effective --- to claim you are somehow a different national identity from those with which you share the same nationality is a patently absurd idea.  It is not until very recently when Hongkongers realised that it is the premise of this curse that is the absurd detail: the age-old lie that Hongkongers are “Chinese”, for the specific definition of “Chinese” that this curse implies.  The opposition stops here, though, and most “localists” are content with substituting it with a murky self-identification of “Hongkonger”, after which we observe a mess of competing bikeshedding: whether “Hongkonger” is an ethnic-national identity, civic-national one, or both; when the “historical immigration cut-off” line should be drawn for “Hongkongers” to be considered natives; and so on.  None has recognised and attempted to lob off the chief supporting leg of the argument on the other side: the curse of “Are you not a Chinese?” is allowed to flourish even to this day, because the Hong Kong public still implicitly believes in, in one way or another, the false song of Chinese nationalism.

The “Chinese”: a national identity built on self-defeating ideas

There are many ways to dismantle the lie of Chinese nationalism.  One could observe how it is no more than a continuation of an imperial subject identity, given a modernist and fashionable name when the ROC and then the PRC adopted the idea from Europe.  This particular thrust has been explored by past publications on Comitium by analysing the intentionally woolly definition of the word “Chinese” written in the Chinese script.

The very same word could mean,
1, the pseudo-biological ethnicity of Han Chinese;
2, the legal nationality of a PRC national;
3, the cultural identity of a Chinese transcending legal nationality; and
4, the romantic idea of a single cultural tradition, presumably unbroken for millennia, found in the East Asian territories that are within today's PRC borders. 
The absurdly wide range of definitions contained within this single word has given rise to such claims from a certain Member of the National People's Congress, Michael Tien Puk-sun's mouth, “Just look at our skin [colour], if we weren't Chinese I don't know what we are” (definition by biology) to be followed by “the Chinese nation has its history spanning millennia.  Now I don't know if you've read any history,” (definition by romantic tradition) “but this whole thing is as simple as stating 'my mother is a woman'!” (definition by popular consensus) “When you go travelling, you fill in the nationality field with 'China' and not 'Hong Kong'” (definition by legal nationality).  At no point does the nebula of definitions attempt to be consistent with itself, with different facets thereof carted out when the situation calls for it --- its principal aim is to remind the audience that they are Chinese.  The Chinese nationalist-reminder thus selects its victims with utmost abandon, for anyone with the most tenuous claim to “Chinese”-ness, perhaps by some distant grand-grand-grand uncle who lived in a conquered province under the (Mongolian-ruled) Qing Dynasty, could still be lassoed in to become just as “Chinese” as the bloodline heir to Old Confucius by the interwoven mess that is “Chinese national identity”.  And once that association is mentioned, the Chinese nationalist-reminder grows full-blown into the Chinese nationalist-curse, for it is within that narrative that any such identified “Chinese” are duty-bound to follow the leadership of the current “Chinese” regime, i.e. the PRC.  That these wildly varying and at times self-conflicting definitions could be played out at will to form an unassailable and messy whole is precisely how the call to Chinese nationalism is no more than a utilitarian chain whose purpose isn't to define a nation, or a nation's people, but to subjugate whatever audience it may lay claim to.  Were this mess of what constitutes a Chinese to be taken seriously, the identity of a “Chinese” would be most schizophrenic indeed.

One could likewise observe how the idea of a Han Chinese identity would fall apart pretty quickly on both ethnic and civic/cultural grounds once you factor in the observable effects of geography on the centuries of interbreeding (and lack thereof), both in blood and language, so much so that the language of the Cantonese is mutually unintelligible with the tongue of the Fujianese, that the funeral customs of Sichuan would look alien to the most accepting Shanghainese, and that the adage of “All Chinese look alike” is indeed a racist generalisation, for no inhabitant of this East Asian land would be unable to differentiate the telling physical differences between a Beijingese and a Hongkonger.  All these, of course, could be wily dismissed by those who (mis-)follow the school of thought where nations are imagined, and thus as long as the ruling Beijing and the majority of her followers imagine Hongkongers to be part of this “Chinese” whole, it is democratically just to accept that, yes, Hongkongers are “Chinese”, too.  All the more lamentable is the reality, in fact, when it is not only the Beijingese, but also a substantial amount of Hongkongers, who buy into this line of thought.

“Chinese nationalism” fails to be nationalism at all

What, then, could the Hong Kong Nationalists offer as a rebuttal?  The answer is simple: Chinese nationalism fails as nationalism.  That is to say, Chinese nationalism is not nationalism.  To support this argument one might need to devote several lifetimes' work into defining “what is nationalism” academically, which is commendable as an intellectual pursuit on its own, but infinitely unhelpful to the situation that Hongkongers are facing with our limited time, quickly running out.  Thus sweeping away all academic considerations on the clinical definitions of nationalism and focusing on the most important thing at hand --- the people of the nation --- one arrives at a common thread that permeates through all definitions: that nationalism is a supreme uniting force for the people, by the people, of the people.  It is a noble call to arms, a sense of camaraderie with those with whom you know you share a common ground.  It is a promise that someone you might not know personally has your back covered on matters important.  And most importantly, it is an exclusive force, for it defines clearly its criteria for inclusion, and from it do the nationals derive their shared pride --- whether in culture, in blood, or in myth.

Let us ask, then, what are the effects of the question, “Are you not Chinese?” upon the accused Hongkongers.  It is not a noble call, but a condescending subjugation of the Hongkonger identity.  It is not a celebration of camaraderie, but a shaming order for compliance and obedience.  It is not a recognition for common ground, but an admission of a lack thereof.  It is not a promise of support, but a threat of public guilt.  And most damningly, it does not evoke pride in Hongkongers, but instead demands submission and self-deletion.  The question is not so much as a reminder of Sinic brotherhood but a memo on Sinic domination.  To tell a Hongkonger he or she is Chinese is anything but a nationalistic call --- Chinese imperialism is alive and well, and no matter of rebranding can the leopard change its spots, oppressive blemishes and all.

Monday, 14 August 2017

[HKUSU Undergrad] Max Chan: Despise Imaginary Freedom, Fight the Regime Until the End

Despise Imaginary Freedom, Fight the Regime Until the End
Translated by Natalie Lung, written by Max Chan Sze-chai 陳思齊, edited by Chen-t'ang

Photo of 國民教育家長關注組
One Country, Two Systems is an evil tool for the United Front: The Chinese Communist Party knew in the first place that it has no legitimacy in governing Hong Kong, hence it “bestowed” freedom on Hongkongers through One Country, Two Systems. This creates legitimacy to govern and causes us to let down our guard, gradually weakening our willpower to rebel. We should not be so naïve to think that the CCP would grant us rights. When we are willing to recognize CCP’s governance and accept the rights given to us in One Country, Two Systems, what follows is even more yokes—chains that imprison freedom and the soul. We, the imprisoned, can only struggle to survive.  

All Freedoms Are Imaginary

Why have Hongkongers gained nothing even after nearly 30 years of fighting for democracy? Apart from being bound by the evil barrier that is the concept of “Greater China”, there is indeed too many Hong Kong people who are restricted by imaginary freedoms to do anything further.  The freedoms we have been enjoying are all imaginary. In fact, under the fantasy land that is One Country, Two Systems, many things we thought we owned don’t exist anymore.

For example, Hongkongers keep saying there is “separation of powers”, but the CCP never intended for Hong Kong to have separation of powers in the first place. Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces like Li Hou, Zhou Nan, Xu Jiatun, Lu Ping, Hao Tiechuan, Zhang Xiaoming, Zhang Dejiang have in fact stated that Hong Kong is executive-led. For example, Zhang Dejiang once said, “The political system of the Hong Kong SAR is not one of separation of powers, it is an executive-led system.”

In other words, separation of powers has been Hongkongers’ fantasy all along. The Basic Law has given Hong Kong too many restrictions: the judgement of disqualified lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung’s appeal is proof that the status of principle of non-interference and separation of powers are not as stable as everyone thought, and what we own now is all within the confines of the Basic Law. The judgement reads, “the supremacy of the Basic Law means that no one—the legislature included—is above the Basic Law.” You could, of course, argue that this is sophistry, but the ruler’s sophistry is the reality that we are facing.

There is no doubt about the rule of law and judicial independence. Without crossing the line of the regime, the judiciary is no doubt independent, and judgement of the court is of course fair, just, and impartial. But once the line of the regime is crossed, the so-called rule of law that Hongkongers are proud it is unscrupulously trampled by the regime.

The Ng Ka Ling case in 1999 already shows that Hong Kong’s courts stand little chance against the interpretation of Basic Law by the NPCSC. The Court of Final Appeal’s initial interpretation of “rule of law” is as such: “What has been controversial is the jurisdiction of the courts of the Region to examine whether any legislative acts of the National People’s Congress or its Standing Committee (which we shall refer to simply as “acts”) are consistent with the Basic Law and to declare them to be invalid if found to be inconsistent. In our view, the courts of the region do have this jurisdiction and indeed the duty to declare invalidity if an inconsistency is found. It is right that we should take this opportunity of stating so unequivocally.” 

But the sections about the NPCSC in this judgement has later been challenged by CCP minions, and the Court of Final Appeal eventually decided to give in and released another judgement in the following month: 

“The Court’s judgment on 29 January 1999 did not question the authority of the Standing Committee to make an interpretation under Article 158 which would have to be followed by the courts of the Region. The Court accepts that it cannot question that authority. Nor did the Courts judgment question, and the Court accepts that it cannot question, the authority of the National People’s Congress or the Standing Committee to do any act which is in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law and the procedure therein.” 

The attitude toward the interpretation of the Basic Law reflected in the two judgements are a far cry from each other.

Under the decree of the CCP, so-called rule of law has been distorted to the point of being unrecognizable. Using the same logic, if the bottom line of the regime is crossed, the freedom and rights stipulated by the Basic Law could be retracted at any time. The right to vote, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly are just strange bedfellows. One Country, Two Systems merely creates an illusion of freedom; the cornerstones and core values of Hongkongers are just a defenseless fantasy under the cruel oppression of the regime.

Shaking Off the Illusion of Freedom

To put it simply, imaginary freedom equates to no freedom, and this is the reality. As unembellished and cruel it is, we must accept this reality, thoroughly rejecting the legitimacy of the governance of this regime. Not doing so would result in being forever imprisoned by these fantasies and living a life that is not free.

In face of increasing encroachment of the CCP in recent years, a small number of Hongkongers have finally become aware that if we want to seek after genuine democratic freedom, we must first throw off the yoke set up by the regime, then someone would risk universal condemnation, stepping into what common people see as a no-go area—separatism. Some examples are Undergrad’s Hong Kong Nationalism and Hong Kong National Party’s advocacy of “a self-reliant nation, an independent Hong Kong”. But the scope of political censorship has expanded: candidacies, LegCo seats, and Lunar New Year fair stall licenses have been denied due to political advocacy, and even today’s peaceful assemblies cannot be tolerated.

Does this mean we ought to be deprived of freedom just because the idea of independence crosses the bottom line of the regime? Hong Kong independence goes against the first article of the Basic Law. Article 158 stipulates the NPCSC’s right to interpret the Basic Law. There is no doubt that all decisions have been made in accordance to the law, but is it just? Hongkongers have become too obsessed with the defenseless “rule of law” and “judicial independence”, which creates obsession and frenzy toward legality, rationalizing all irrationals.

Nearing the point of life and death, we should stop continually persuading ourselves to accept the acts of the regime and the boundaries drawn up by the Basic Law, and resist till the end. Why should we be imprisoned by the political prison established by an authoritarian regime, and treat freedom as a gift from the regime? Why should we have to surround ourselves with fear and trepidation and be worried that the regime might take away our freedom? Shouldn’t humans be born with freedom? When we have deprived of our inherent rights, our resistance should be respected. Taking back our due rights and determining our own future is the historical mission of our time. Therefore, we should no longer hold the mindset of “defending the rule of law” and “defending separation of powers”—we fundamentally do not have rule of law and separation of powers, we have nothing, hence we are not defending the system, but we are building a new one on our own.

The Reason for Independence

Hong Kong should be independent because reality tells us that, the CCP had decided not to give Hong Kong democracy from day one. Imagine a colony asking an authoritarian suzerain for democracy. This is not negotiation, but is as unrealistic as “asking a tiger for its skin”. To China, Hong Kong is only a gear in the state apparatus. And the only duty for the gear is to give impetus to the country’s development. Granting Hong Kong democracy means giving an opportunity for the gear to reverse, which could cause the whole apparatus to break down.

Why would the Communist Party be so foolish to set itself on fire?

We may look at how Tibet fell into the CCP’s death trap. In 1951, the 14th Dalai Lama signed the 17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, a document like the Basic Law, with the CCP. At first, Tibetans naively believed that One Country, Two Systems was sustainable, but the 17-Point Agreement was sugar-coated poison, the CCP’s goal from day one was to deceive the people of Tibet using the Agreement, finally transitioning to One Country, One System. As days passed, Tibetans started taking notice of the Communist Party’s plot. Up until the Lhasa Uprising, the CCP had every right to deploy force to take over Tibet and carry out One Country, One System.

Hong Kong’s situation is like Tibet at that time. In only 20 years, the CCP’s real intentions are revealed as they bluntly referred to the Sino-British Joint Declaration as a historical document.

Be it “I want genuine democracy”, “democratic self-determination”, or “independence for Hong Kong” - it is impossible to beg with the CCP because these advocacies are solely political terms to the CCP—they all belong to the “subversion of state regime”.

We can therefore infer that if Hong Kong independence is described as not feasible by the pan-democrats, then the feasibility of fighting for genuine democracy is no different to that of fighting for Hong Kong independence. Since there is no way to achieve success by begging for democracy from the CCP, why don’t we fight for it on our own? Since what we have left are all infeasible options, where is the reason not to go after an option that could rid Hongkongers of CCP rule?

Pro-Independence Camp Must Admit They Lack Strength

The Chinese saying goes, “The feeling of shame is close to bravery”. We must admit that we lack strength and full awareness of our circumstances. We must put more effort to promote the thinking of the independence camp. 

Pan-localists gained a strong momentum after the New Territories East by-election. The independence camp, however, could not keep up after being hit by waves of political pressure. But we should not be disheartened nor deceive ourselves, and run away from the fact that we lack ability. Bluffing would lead us to misinterpret and miscalculate the circumstances and ultimately, to self-destruction. We should therefore accept reality and begin accumulating political energy again—that is the priority for the independence camp.

But one of the reasons many people are unwilling to admit the camp’s lack of strength is because they could not stand being mocked by the pan-democrats. “Aren’t you brave enough? When is the said revolution going to take place? When are you going to build the nation? These are some of the provocations the independence camp often receives. Perhaps it is because many from the independence camp have often criticized the pan-democrats for not achieving a thing having fought for so many years that they are unwilling to accept such mockery from the pan-democrats.

But if the independence camp wishes to continue growing, it must bear these provocations. As the Chinese saying goes, “lack of forbearance in small matters upsets great plans”, are we going to stage a violent protest on the streets to prove our bravery just because we were provoked? No. This is just foolhardy. With the sky-high cost of today’s protests, we now know that the Hong Kong communist regime would charge protesters with the offence of rioting, an ordinance that has been gathering dust. Conflicts with the regime would only create more wounds. I believe no arrested warriors would wish to see more members of the independence camp behind bars.

It is true that we don’t have yet the ability to be brave, to rebel, or to build a nation, but this is not something to be ashamed of. Precisely because our goal is grander than past generations—we are fighting for genuine freedom, and to be completely free from an authoritarian regime, to build a nation independently—our preparation process must be longer than any other resistance or movement, there are more reasons for us to build up our strength. 

The work of the independence camp has just begun. If we compare ourselves to the pan-democrats, who have been fighting for democracy for nearly thirty years, or the resourceful pro-establishment camp, there is of course a lot of catch up to do, but this is nothing to be ashamed of.

Time Will Be on the Side of the Independence Camp

I must come clean that my attitude towards the self-determination camp has been constantly changing. At first, I felt they were out-and-out politicians, taking out the “far-right”, “xenophobic” and “fascist” concept of “national” from “national self-determination”, distorting “national self-determination” into “democratic self-determination” to win the election. Though I still think “democratic self-determination” is abstract political jargon, even New Power Party’s Huang Kuo-chang said Taiwan’s independence camp had difficulty understanding “democratic self-determination” because he said “we wanted self-determination from the start, it should have been like this from the start.”

But now I believe that we shouldn’t exclude the self-determination camp so much. As much as you see them as politicians, but they indeed have been wielding influence they meant to wield, and it is not harming the independence camp in any way. In a highly politically polarized place like Hong Kong, people embrace peace and they wish to use peace to solve all problems and to use the gentlest of appeals to fight for democracy.

Back in the day, all Raymond Wong Yuk-man did was throw a banana in LegCo, which was met with much criticism. But occupying the chairman’s podium is now a common scene whenever there is an important vote.

Hu Shih once said “a trendsetter not a master made”; this may well describe Raymond Wong Yuk-man’s introduction of disruptive resistance to Hong Kong’s legislative politics. From this, we know that we have to constantly challenge Hongkonger’s moral bottom line to increase their level of acceptance towards protests. 

Wong said he does not support independence, but supports the notion of devising a new constitution made with the support of all the people. However, he encourages discussions about Hong Kong independence, because of these very same reasons. 

However, Hong Kong independence is clearly beyond Hongkongers' understanding at this point. If the existence of the self-determination camp can help increase Hongkongers' openness towards political ideals, they are beneficial to the independence camp. 

What’s more is that in the HKU forum on 1 July, Andy Chan said many so-called members of the self-determination camp don’t feel much different from those in the independence camp, which is a reasonable guess to make. No proponent of self-determination would say that “self-determine to be ruled by the mother country”, as they are often the ones oppressed by an imperialist or mother country, which explains their desire for self-determination, to break free and regain freedom.

Time will be on our side — as political oppression runs increasingly rampant, the independence camp will grow exponentially. 

The CCP is not only pointing fingers at the independence camp; attacks on the self-determination camp are also becoming more obvious. Six elected warriors have already been stripped of their seats, and there will be more to come. 

Furthermore, we can observe from state propaganda the CCP’s attitude towards the self-determination camp. The pro-establishment camp has also condemned the self-determination camp for colluding with the Taiwan independence movement. It is safe to say that the self-determination camp is no different from the independence camp to the CCP. The independence camp has lost freedom of assembly, which means the same could happen soon to the self-determination camp.

The Last Bastion of Defense

The police issued a formal prohibition letter to ban the National Party’s 30 June gathering, citing the event’s conflict with Article 1 of the Basic Law. It was as if a curfew was in place in Tsim Sha Tsui that night, with a heavy police presence. The gathering had to be cancelled and moved to Baptist University. 

We were angered by this, but it was all within our expectations. Andy Chan had predicted as early as August last year that the independence camp would one day be deprived of their freedom of assembly.

Putting resentment aside, the independence camp now must understand that in this era of constant political oppression, university campuses will be the independence camp’s last and sturdiest bastion of defense.

Although the police had invaded our HKU campus in the battle of Sassoon Road (26 January 2016), universities are halos and shelters of academic freedom after all, making it impossible for the machine of “maintaining stability” to enter university campuses overtly for the time being.
Defending HKU 

But how long can this aura and shelter last? The regime knows for sure that university campuses now act as a protective shield for the independence camp. Hence, since the beginning of the fall of Hong Kong to the communists, the regime has always wanted to capture universities, and the invasion into and oppression of campuses have never stopped.

Take HKU as an example, the Robert Chung Ting-yiu incident (July 2000) is irrefutable evidence of the clamping down of academic freedom. Another is the growing Communist influence in student councils. Just look at Wong Yiu-ying, the Hong Kong Tertiary Student Alliance, Ayo Chan Yi-ngok (2009 SU President), the messes caused by Tam Chun-sing (2012 Convocation Chairman) and Dan Chan (2012 SU President), and Smarties (February 2015)—the CCP’s attempt to infiltrate the HKU Student Union is self-evident.

The University’s Council is the eye of the storm in recent years. The Council, comprising CY Leung’s supporters, cited ridiculous reasons to reject Professor Johannes Chan’s appointment as pro-vice chancellor; former student president Billy Fung and former external affairs vice chairman Li Fung Kei are facing legal charges due to their participation in besieging the council meeting at the Sassoon Road campus; and the Council’s recent rejection of reform—all of which are enough to prove the Hong Kong Communist regime’s desire to keep  students out of any discussion of university governance.

In addition, Cai Hongbin, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, was made Dean of HKU’s School of Economics and Finance this year. The communist regime’s desire to influence the senior management of HKU is all too clear. Vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson is about to leave and the search for a new vice-chancellor has also commenced. The new vice-chancellor candidate would certainly have a far-reaching impact on academic freedom, and if they are similar to the likes of Cai Hongbin, it would only take a day to destroy the University’s legacy.

Hence, I hope all HKU students would unite and resist the encroachment of the tyrant, to monitor the progress of university governance reform and the search for a new vice-chancellor. Hall life and running for as cabinet member post are no doubt diverse and exciting, and the report recently published by the Review Panel of University Governance and the Council’s Working Party is lengthy and boring, but if you are self-aware and proud of your identity as a member of HKU, you should come forward and defend the university. 

The first step is to understand; support comes next. What follows is participation—to save HKU from going downhill. I am very pessimistic and could not stop thinking that one day, the police could unscrupulously enter our campus, and the university could bar students from holding any activities or discussing and promoting Hong Kong independence. However, we must persist till the end no matter what, defending all those whose freedom and political rights have been deprived of, allowing university campuses to be their sturdiest bastion of defense. Surely, apart from HKU students, my hope is that my fellow tertiary schoolmates can equip themselves and defend higher education together.

Do not underestimate yourselves—each of us can make a change in society. College students are often the trailblazers of our time and they can always be found at forefront of advocating social change. Just look at China’s May Fourth movement and Taiwan’s Wild Lily student movement and the Sunflower student movement. College students often play the role of leaders and strive for social change. College students symbolize freedom of thought, and they are destined to become rebels if they enjoy freedom of thought in an unfree world. But once university campuses, a hub in which freedom of thought is nurtured, are occupied by tyrants, we would lose many of our free-thinking youngsters. Society would also lose a powerful force of resistance.

Fighting the regime until the end is our historic mission.

We must break free from confinement. Only people who have overcome their fears will truly be free.